Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer Review – Gripping, Haunting, Evil Unmasked

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Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer, an original Netflix docu-series, brings to the screen the story behind the manhunt for serial killer Richard Ramirez who terrorized Angelenos for fourteen months beginning in June 1984.

 

The series begins with an introduction to Los Angeles circa 1984 and the tale of two L.A.’s. The alluring and seductive bright lights, glitz, glam and on the other side, an equally dark, underbelly of grit, crime, and destruction.

This is where we begin. Somewhere in the middle. The suburbs where millions of Angelenos, who for whatever out of the many reasons, that have enticed people since the days of the Gold Rush, have taken up residence, built lives, married, had families, and enjoyed life in southern California.


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It was June 1984, a record-breaking heatwave hit Los Angeles, along with a series of murders and sexual assaults that at first seemed disconnected. A homicide. With the sprawling metropolis that makes up Los Angeles County, a single homicide usually doesn’t become known in the annuals of time as the beginning of a reign of terror. The victim, a 79-year-old female, raped and murdered in her home.

Throughout the series we also meet the Los Angeles County Homicide detectives: the legendary homicide investigator Frank Salerno, affectionally known as the “goombah.” Highly respected, dedicated and when he showed up on the case, the others moved aside. He worked the Hillside Strangler case, capturing both killers.

We also meet his partner, Detective Gil Carrillo, who explains, in first person, how he became partners with Salerno and more. The film humanizes him. We meet his wife, a childhood sweetheart, who broke his heart and how he won her back and the life they built.


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As a true crime docu-series, Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer, builds the case for the viewers as the homicide detectives built their case.

Across the four episodes, we understand the painstaking diligence in the collection of evidence, and more the pure evil at work. Told through harrowing first-person interviews, gripping archival footage and actual crime scene photos, before computerized fingerprints and the modernization of forensic work, solving this case was dependent on old-fashioned detective work and gathering the evidence, which began with a shoe print.

As the time wears on, the killer, we see is emboldened, committing two and three crimes a night. Some victims he robs and murders and then travels miles away to rape another victim.


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The victims were men, women, and children. They ranged in age from six to 82. They came from different neighborhoods, racial backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels. We also meet the victims and victim-survivors. Family members of those brutally and viciously murdered, at the hands of this monster, and children, now adults, whom he sexually assaulted.

As the days wear on and the bodies and victims continue to rise, we understand a haunting fear grips the city. A cat and mouse race against time as the media believes all information is fair game and the detectives who desperately want to keep the evidence and information on a need to know so not to spook the killer. He does flee and continues his heinous crimes in San Francisco.

This iconic L.A. real-life horror story paints a vivid portrait of how it felt to live in fear at a time when absolutely anyone could be the Night Stalker’s next victim.


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The Netflix limited docu-series Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer tells the spellbinding true story of how one of the most notorious serial killers in American history was hunted down and brought to justice.

A gripping, lingering, haunting account of terror, Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is available on Netflix January 13, 2021. See it.

Year – 2021

Country – USA

Language – English

Runtime – Four 49-53 minute episodes

Director – Tiller Russell

Producer Tiller Russell, Tim Walsh, Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman.

Cast – Gil Carrillo, Frank Salerno, Richard Ramirez, Daniel Hernandez, Arturo Hernandez

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